Teen Marijuana Use Drops as Legalization Increases

National Survey Finds Teen Marijuana Use Declining, Even in States with Recreational Pot

teen marijuana useA new study conducted by the University of Michigan has found that teen marijuana use is decreasing, in spite of more states looking to increase recreational use of the drug.

The Monitoring the Future study, which is now in its 40th year, surveys between 40,000 and 50,000 8th, 10th, and 12th graders across the country about their drug and alcohol use, including cigarettes, marijuana, and illegal drugs.

For the past 5 years, the study has determined that teen marijuana use was increasing during those years. However, since 2013, marijuana use in all three grades has declined from 26% to 24%. Among 17 year old students, 5.8% say they use marijuana almost daily, which is down from 6.5% in 2013.

“There is a lot of good news in this year’s results, but the problems of teen substance use and abuse are still far from going away,” Lloyd Johnston, the study’s principal investigator, said.

Students report that part of the reason for the decline in marijuana use is that the drug is less available. This could in part be due to tougher restrictions in states with some form of legalized marijuana use, such as recreational or medical marijuana.

Synthetic marijuana, a drug that the Drug Enforcement Agency has been cracking down on since last year, is also falling out of favor among students. The survey first asked about synthetic marijuana use in 2011, and 11% of 12th graders said they had used the drugs in the past year. That number dropped to just 6% for this year.

Further good news included a drop in abuse of prescription drugs, such as sedatives and narcotic painkillers. In 2013, prescription drugs were used by 16% of the target age group, and that fell to 14% this year. Narcotic painkiller use specifically has dropped since 2009, and this year fell from 7% to 6%. Heroin use remained stable, although the survey found that most teenagers consider prescription painkillers safer than illegal narcotic drugs like heroin.

“There’s a very strong and aggressive campaign about educating the public on the risk of opioid medications as it relates to overdoses and deaths,” Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said. “That has made teenagers aware that they are not so safe as they thought they were.”

One drug on the rise is tobacco, through the popularity of e-cigarettes. However, traditional tobacco cigarettes, along with alcohol use, are on the decline. Alcohol abuse dropped from 43% of teenagers in 2013 to 41% of teenagers in 2014.

“Both alcohol and cigarette use in 2014 are at their lowest points since the study began in 1975,” the study’s authors conclude in a press release. Volkow added that “with marijuana use appearing to level off, and rates of many other drugs decreasing, it is possible that prevention efforts are having an effect.”

If You Face Marijuana Charges, Including for Medical Marijuana Use Charges, The Strom Law Firm Can Help

Although many states have passed medical marijuana legislation, South Carolina still has not legalized the use of marijuana for recreational or medical reasons. You could be charged with drug possessionIf you or a loved one have been found with medical marijuana, you could face criminal charges ranging from misdemeanor to felony, depending on how much marijuana was on your person, and what your intent was with the drug. The drug crimes attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. Do not let drug charges for medical marijuana hurt your reputation or your future aspirations. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case. Contact us today for help. 803.252.4800

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